Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

RADM Fluckey Reaches Final Resting Place

A portion of the remains of RADM Gene Fluckey, last of the WWII submarine Medal of Honor awardees to depart on his final patrol, were committed to the deep last week:
USS Pasadena (SSN-752) bid farewell to the decorated submarine hero, retired Rear Adm. Eugene B. Fluckey, during a burial-at-sea Jan. 24 in the South China Sea.
Pasadena, half way through its six-month deployment, scattered Fluckey’s ashes at the exact location Fluckey and the crew of USS Barb saved 14 prisoners of war during World War II.
Pasadena Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Doug Perry, delivered words of remembrance from the bridge of the Los Angeles-class submarine while Lt. Cmdr. Lee P. Sisco, the ship’s executive officer, committed Fluckey to the sea as the crew observed a moment of silence below decks.
Video of the ceremony and some of the thoughts of the Pasadena's crew on being part of this momentous occasion can be found here.

Even the youngest WWII heroes are leaving us more and more frequently. Over at Castle Argghhh!!!, check out the story of a Marine who helped raise the first flag on Mt. Suribachi; then-PFC Ray Jacobs passed away today. Let the laying to rest of RADM Fluckey, and the passing of PFC Jacobs, strengthen our commitment to honor those brave men who fought in the most desperate war of recent times while they're still with us, just as we honor the heroes of today.

Cool Things, Multimedia Edition

Surfing around tonight, I found I like this video of dolphins "riding the bow wave" taken from the bridge of USS Wyoming (SSBN 742), as well as this "poster":

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three New Submarines Named

One of the dangers of being an unregulated submarine blogger is that you occasionally put out information that's so far "ahead of the curve" that it turns out later to have changed. Such was the case when I "revealed" that SSN 780 would be named USS California. The Secretary of the Navy today proved me wrong when he announced the names of the next three Virginia-class submarines:
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced today the names of three Virginia class submarines -- the Missouri, California and Mississippi.
The selection of Missouri honors the continuous support of the military by the people of the “Show Me State,” and its leaders. Designated SSN 780, Missouri is the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state. The last Missouri (BB 63), a U.S. Navy battleship, saw action in World War II, Korean War, and the 1991 Gulf War. Missouri was also the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers, accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.
The selection of California, designated SSN 781, honors the thousands of men and women from California who serve in today’s Armed Forces, and the millions of Californian veterans and their families. As home to major Naval and Marine Corps installations, the selection of California also reflects the tremendous support provided to the Navy and Marine Corps by countless communities across the Golden State. This will be the seventh ship to bear the name California.
The selection of Mississippi, designated SSN 782, is dedicated to the state’s long standing tradition of shipbuilding in support of our nation’s defense. It also honors the indomitable spirit of the people of Mississippi who have made great strides in recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This fighting spirit will be an inspiration to all sailors who embark aboard Mississippi. There have been four previous ships named Mississippi. The first Mississippi, a side wheeler, served as Commodore Matthew Perry’s flagship for his historic voyage to Japan and fought with Admiral Farragut’s forces on the Mississippi River during the Civil War.
I'm sure submarine bloggers of the future will be looking forward to a picture of the new USS Missouri rendering honors to the old one.

Snow Day!

For the first time in at least 15 years, the school district my boys attend is closing schools because of weather -- the problem today isn't necessarily snow, but really slick roads. The boys were very excited when woken up to be told at 5 a.m. (yes, I recognize I'm a jerk -- that's one of the benefits of being a Dad), because it's their first snow day in a while, since we lived back in Connecticut in 2003.

For me, growing up in semi-rural Nebraska, it seems we had two or more snow days almost every year. Does it seem to you like the number of days schools are closed has gone down over the last 30 years or so?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Submarine News And Notes

A quick run through submarine tidbits making news today:

1) USS Connecticut (SSN 22) arrives in her new homeport of Bangor today, meaning all three Seawolf-class subs will now be based in the Puget Sound. Given the known superiority of Seawolf-class boats, this means the Bangor area now indisputably has the world's most powerful submarine fleet when you count the 2 SSGNs, their 8 SSGNs SSBNs, and whichever two Seawolfs can get underway while the 3rd one is used as a spare parts depot for the other two.

2) We don't talk about countermeasure systems very much, for very good reason, which can leave military reporters unsure about how to describe them when they do make the news. This results in them being called part of a "counterattack" system in this article about a man stealing what seem to be domes from a CSA MkII system on USS Hampton (SSN 767).

3) I really don't see Brazil successfully building an SSN within the next 20 years, despite what this article says.

4) This article about the Navy resuming sonar training off SoCal is amusing because it has quotes from skimmer-types about ASW, including this one:

At 2 a.m. Sunday, the target submarine -- a U.S. sub playing the role of the enemy -- surfaced near the carrier and radioed to announce its location. In these games, it was a taunt that prompted a round of urgent, middle-of-the-night phone calls.
"It's very embarrassing that the submarine got in on us," said one Navy captain. "But it shows how a submarine can hide among pinnacles and seamounts, and we'll have to learn from it."
Looks to me like at least one Navy captain has been watching too much "Hunt For Red October" and thinks submarines really do dart in and out among the forest of "pinnacles" that is the SoCal local ops area...

Edited 2024 29 Jan to correct a typo.

Update 0717 30 Jan 2008: The news about submarines just keeps on coming! USS Miami (SSN 755) returned from deployment, the delivery of PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) has been delayed until February because of a problem with a steam valve, and USS Connecticut arrived as planned yesterday, as this photo attests:

Update 0015 31 Jan 2008: Here's another picture of Connecticut's arrival.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Passing Of A Great Man

President Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, passed away this evening of causes incident to age, surrounded by his family. He was 97. He was an amazing man, and a great leader of my Church. With his passing, leadership of the Church passes to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. By tradition, the next President of the Church will be Thomas S. Monson, a WWII Navy veteran.

I think I'll always remember the way President Hinckley was able to win over Mike Wallace in a 60 Minutes interview. But the thing that will stick in my mind until the day I die is the heart-warming eulogy he gave to his beloved wife. His words are timeless:
Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams.
Welcome to your rest, President Hinckley, and walk again into your wife's loving arms.

Common Sense Returns To Seventh Fleet

Following the outcry over the ridiculous 7th Fleet liberty policy for Sailors in their home ports in Japan, it looks like the Commander of CTF-70 bowed to common sense and revoked the worst of the nanny-like policies:
Sailors E-5 and below in Commander Task Force 70 had been required to account for their off-ship activities in a weekly log. That rule was “relaxed” this month, said CTF-70 spokeswoman Cmdr. Jensin Sommer.
Now, only “white card holders” — sailors new to Japan or those deemed a liberty risk — have to write and follow liberty plans. “White cards” also mean a midnight curfew for those holding them.
“Blue card” sailors with overnight liberty no longer have to fill out the plans.
The change was made by commanding officer Adm. Richard Wren on Jan. 18, Sommer said.
In a written statement, Wren said the old policy “had run its course and is no longer needed.”
Hopefully this much-needed change of heart will survive the first liberty incident.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

If It's Snowing Out, It Must Be Time For...

...the Spring 2007 edition of Undersea Warfare Magazine to finally make it to the N87 website! I seriously don't know when it was posted, but I check about every month, and the Winter 2007 volume didn't make it online until about September. Now that it's available, though, it's got some good reading, like a story on nuclear submarine innovations and a report on the finding of USS Wahoo (SS 238). It's well worth a look.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Video From Inside The Picture

Those of you who check out the pictures at the Navy NewsStand may remember this picture from the 2006 Annualex:

The two submarines in front (where submarines always seem to be in these group pictures) are USS Asheville (SSN 758) and USS Seawolf (SSN 21). For "the rest of the story", check out this video shot through the periscope of USS Asheville:

USS Olympia SKC In Trouble

I know it's always important to give people the assumption of innocence until guilt is proven, but it looks like USS Olympia (SSN 717) will be needing a new SKC:
When the Hawaiian plane landed Friday at Phoenix's airport, Cole was arrested. That's where police said he initially denied physical contact and said he only touched the girl in an attempt to wake her before the plane landed. A short time later, police said he changed his story and admitted he had fondled himself while sitting next to the girl.
Cole is stationed aboard the USS Olympia submarine at Pearl Harbor, where he's a chief storekeeper. Sources say he was on vacation and may have been traveling to visit his mother, who lives in Arizona.
Prosecutors said the man is married with young children, and his wife told them that she will not allow him back to their house in Hawaii because of his arrest.
People, even submariners, amaze me in their stupidity at times. A life ruined, a family broken apart, and a young girl traumatized because some idiot couldn't control his urges. I'm sure the Navy will be checking his records and auditing his parts inventory to see what other rules he decided to break.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Pecker-Checker Had Balls

The sheer chutzpah of this Corpsman amazes me -- as does the fact that he got as far with it as he did. Excerpts from the Navy Times story:
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Dontae Lee Tazewell, 28, faces seven specifications of forgery and 11 specifications of wearing unauthorized ribbons and medals. Besides the Bronze Star, the unearned awards include a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Medal and various other medals, according to the charging documents. Tazewell allegedly told people he risked his life to save Marines in combat in Iraq five years ago, and managed to get himself promoted to E-5 based on the phony citations, prosecutors said.
According to his official Navy biography, Tazewell, who joined the Navy in June 1998, rates only a Good Conduct Medal...
...“The overall format is incorrect with regard to fonts and the like,” she said, adding that the paperwork was endorsed by a fictitious three-star general. Reading one document allegedly crafted by Tazewell, Burks said, “Lt. Gen. Harland does not exist.”
Navy prosecutor Lt. Matthew Wooten said Tazewell failed his March 2006 advancement exam and was facing separation because he hadn’t made E-5. In response, Wooten said Tazewell “conned the Navy” with “phony” citations that somehow passed through the chain of command.
The citations were so successful that Tazewell was treated to an award ceremony attended by more than 100 people in which a Navy captain lauded Tazewell by telling the audience “This is what a hero looks like.” Several military publications also wrote articles about Tazewell. Based on the awards, the Navy reviewed Tazewell’s record and advanced him to E-5.
You see lots of stories of people trying to make up awards after they're out (or if they never were even in) but this is the first case I've heard of someone making up awards to try to avoid HYT (High Year Tenure).

A much more humorous, and less disgusting, case involved an E-2 my last EDMC told me about who he saw walking around on base in Groton with five rows of ribbons, headed by a Distinguished Service Medal. When my Master Chief stopped him and asked him about his "fruit salad", the Sailor cheerfully explained how he went to the Uniform Shop and picked out a pretty assortment of ribbons that he thought looked good together -- apparently no one had told him in boot camp that you actually had to earn the things.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Welcome Back To Work

For those of you who surf the 'net mostly from work, welcome back from your long weekend. Over at bothenook's place, here's a roundup of recent stories from the legion of submarine blogs. For those who use The Sub Report to get their submarine news links, Eric has put the site on automatic this week while he recovers from surgery.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bubblehead Reveals What Will Happen In 2008

I'm a little late getting to my "Predictions for 2008" post, and it's past my bedtime, so I'm kinda winging this one. We'll see how I do at the end of the year.

1) In carryovers from the last two years, we won't invade Iran, and President Bush and Vice President Cheney won't be impeached.

2) This article is wrong -- the nominees for the Presidential election have already been decided; all that's left is for the political trends already in evidence to play themselves out. In November, the Republican McCain-Thompson ticket will beat the Democratic Clinton-Evan Bayh pairing by 51-46% in the popular vote, and something like 296-242 in the Electoral College. In a replay of 2000, the Democrats will pick up seats in the Senate despite losing the Presidency.

3) A team from some conference other than the SEC will win the college football championship in January 2008, breaking a 2 year streak.

4) There will be fewer U.S. submarines making the news than in 2007, which is a Good Thing.

5) "Speed Racer" will be a surprisingly good movie.

If I come up with any more, I'll let you know. Feel free to share your predictions in the comments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Movie Review: "Cloverfield"

I succumbed to the hype and went to see "Cloverfield" today. All in all, I'd say it's the 2nd best movie I've seen so far this month -- "Juno" was quite a bit better, and "Atonement" was infinitely worse. I didn't feel like I wasted my money or time seeing this one.

Basically, it's a combination of "Godzilla" and "Blair Witch Project" set in post-9/11 NYC. I didn't really like "Blair Witch" and I viscerally hated "Godzilla". Both films were similar in that I really didn't care if the main characters lived or not (for "Godzilla", I was actively rooting for the lizard to eat the annoying stars). It was kind of the same here -- the "heroes" were vacuous 20-somethings whom I would mock and belittle were I to interact with them in the real world, and as they made dumber and dumber decisions (all for a noble cause, though) I found myself caring less and less if they lived (although the beginning of the film gave a pretty good indication of their fate).

Even with the character likeability issue, I thought the film still worked. Monster(s) straight out of "Starship Troopers" were CGI marvels, and the jerky camera-work (intentional) made you use your imagination to fill in the blanks. The military came off as pretty competent -- sure, some of them yelled at the main characters, but it was understood that they deserved to be berated.

The movie ended fairly abruptly, although it was fairly clear to me why that had to be. A lot of people waited around until the credits were done, but all they apparently got was a garbled voice -- the mystery of which may be explained here. If you want any more spoilers, you can go to the Wiki. (If you go to the see it without reading spoilers first, just remember to pay close attention to the sky during the scene at the end where they're on the ferris wheel.)

My wife and teenage son didn't like the movie as much as I did. My wife gave it a "1" (though not "the finger" -- she said it had enough positive elements to avoid that stigma); my son gave it a "2" (all ratings out of "5") and had this to say via IM from our family room while I was typing this (capitalization and punctuation inserted by parent):
"I liked their monster concept, but the first-person complete rip-off of Blair Witch Project got boring.
I felt like I'd seen the concept executed well once but didn't need to see it again."
Not very good news for the movie's execs, seeing as how my son is smack in the middle of their target demographic. For me, I give it 3 Uncomfortably Vivid 9/11 Reminders out of five.

Update 0524 23 Jan 2008: ninme really liked the movie.

New Technologies To Aid Submarine Stealth?

During the last week, there have been announcements of a couple of new technologies that could make submaries even harder to detect. The first one, which has actually been built, is a system to send encrypted communications to submarines from expendable bouys that can transmit a digital signal underwater as far as 175 nm. Excerpt:
To communicate with a submerged submarine safely, a gateway mechanism is required to deliver messages deeper than periscope depth. The Deep Siren Tactical Paging system is comprised of a disposable gateway buoy with an antenna that gathers radio-frequency signals and converts them to Deep Siren acoustic signals that penetrate the water and are received by the submarine's sonar system. These acoustic signals are then converted on board the submarine to text messages with the Deep Siren receiver. The Deep Siren system also includes a portable transmit station which can be located on shore or carried on board a ship or airplane. "You want to have this be a global capability, where the buoy can be called from anywhere in the world," Matzelevich says.
Working with RRK Technologies, Ltd., in Glasgow, Scotland, and Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Raytheon is developing a Deep Siren system that includes expendable buoys that are five inches (12.7 centimeters) in diameter and about 3.5 feet (one meter) long with antennas that receive signals from a constellation of Iridium Satellite, LLC, communication satellites. The buoys—designed to stay afloat for up to three days—can be ejected out of the sub's trash disposal unit without major modifications to the vessel. In this way, subs can set up their own acoustic networks without the need to tow an antenna.
The story says the system is supposed to get an at-sea eval in June as part of the Communications At Speed And Depth initiative. The story made it seem that subs only communicate now by using the Floating Wire Antenna at periscope depth, but I'm assuming that the writer didn't understand what the retired submarine Captain was saying.

The other new breakthrough has to do with defeating active sonar by "bending" sound waves around a submarine. This one is a fascinating theoretical advance, but I really don't see it having any practical application. (The abstract is located here.) The problem is that is appears that this would require covering the submarine with honeycombs of a still-undiscovered "metamaterial" which, I'm guessing, wouldn't have much in the way of the strength needed to retain it's shape at depth while still allowing for hull compression. If they can eventually tech this one out, I wouldn't expect to see boats using it for at least several decades.

HMS Astute SSTG Repairs Complete

Remember the story of the British submarine HMS Astute (S 119) having her Turbine Generator bearings and shaft damaged during a shipyard test in new construction? At the time, the assumption was that they'd have to do a hull cut to get the shafts repaired. It turns out they didn't have to, according to this story:
BAE has successfully completed repairs on the second of two turbo generator shafts on the £1.2bn first-of-class Astute submarine, damaged in harbour trials last August.
The company hired a firm which specialises in marine in-situ repairs to reprofile the shafts after they were scored by turning unlubricated in bearings after an oil pump broke down.
Now the shafts are reprofiled an exhaustive series of operations is taking place to flush the turbo generators with oil to remove any unwanted particles that could damage the machinery.
When flushing tests are complete work will begin to re-instate equipment in the confined aft space of the submarine which had to be moved to get at the generators.
Of course, they won't know how successful the repairs actually were until they get to spin them up again, and even then I could imagine their noise performance might suffer. Still, I'm impressed that they could at least get the roundness fixed doing the job in-place.

Even so, I expect that whatever gremlins moved into the SSTGs prior to the test might make themselves known in the future. Equipment that just never works quite right is, I'm sure, a tradition "enjoyed" by all submariners worldwide.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First SSGN Deployed Crew Swap

This report from Guam discusses the first overseas crew swap since her conversion for USS Ohio (SSGN 726). I've never done a crew swap, so some of what the article said surprised me:

GUAM was the site for the first crew swap between the USS Ohio's "gold crew" and the "blue crew" with each crew consisting of 165 sailors.
The "blue crew" recently arrived on Guam for a regularly scheduled port visit.
The USS Ohio is scheduled to have three crew swaps and then return to Bangor, Wash., Ohio's homeport...
...The gold crew was scheduled to relieve the blue crew. After the swap, though, the blue crew will stay for roughly three weeks and repair the submarine before they can fly home.
It's the last sentence that got me scratching my head. I would have figured the crew swap would be at the end of the maintenance period, and the oncoming crew would stand proficiency watches under the crew that had the boat prior to taking over officially. If that the way SSBN crew swaps are done, with the Trident Refit Facility or IMF available to do the toughest maintenance? Were overseas boomer crew swaps done differently? Or did the reporter just not understand what he was being told?

I'd be interested in hearing from those of you experienced in such things if the off-going crew really does turn over the boat right away, but then have to stay around for three weeks of not-very-fun maintenance help.

Update 0521 23 Jan 2008: Looks like the Blue Crew only hung around for 12 days after they pulled into Guam, and 4 days after the Gold Crew took over.

Monday, January 14, 2008

USS Boise Receives Battle "E"

Here's a NAVSUBFOR picture of the CO of USS Boise (SSN 764) receiving the Battle "E" plaque on behalf of his crew from the Commodore of SUBRON 8, CAPT Don Kelso:

The full list of Battle "E" winners can be found here; as you can see, the officers and crew of USS Boise are in good company. Congratulations, and thanks for making your namesake city proud!

A Plea To Groton Submariners: Do The Right Thing

Groton submariners will have to decide this week where they stand -- do they stand for Good, or for Evil? I hope they choose wisely.

Groton, CT, is about halfway between New York and Boston -- this placement, in addition to ensuring that the two casinos in the area have plenty of customers, causes it to be a flashpoint for sports fans as they're asked to choose between the New York teams and Boston teams. This week, though, I'm calling on submariners in the Groton area to resist the pressure to choose between the New England Patriots and New York Giants and support the team that represents Good in the remainder of the NFL playoffs -- the San Diego Chargers. It's not that they're inherently Good, it's that their opponent this Sunday, the Patriots, are inherently evil.

The undefeated Patriots, led by their Evil coach, are best known for cheating and poor sportsmanship, but are favored against the virtuous Chargers. However, since no NFL team has ever won 18 straight games to start the season, it's clear that history is on the side of San Diego. Submariners should remember that San Diego is a real Navy town, where people support the military. In Boston, on the other hand, locals are probably planning protests at the USS Constitution as we speak. There's only one choice to make as the country splits this week along natural fault lines -- Submariners should do what is right, and Speak Truth to (Patriot) Power. Go Chargers!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chinese Submarine Fleet Stirs

The Federation of American Scientists has issued an analysis of Chinese submarine deployment numbers over the last 25 years, based on FOIA information from the Navy. Here's how the story starts:
China's entire fleet of approximately 55 general-purpose submarines conducted a total of six patrols during 2007, slightly better than the two patrols conducted in 2006 and zero in 2005.
The 2007 performance matches China's all-time high of six patrols conducted in 2000, the only two years since 1981 that Chinese submarines conducted more than five patrols in a single year.
The new information, obtained by Federation of American Scientists from the U.S. Navy under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows that none of China's ballistic missile submarines have ever conducted a deterrent patrol.
The analysis by the FAS is pretty good. Basically, they say that the Chinese submarine force lacks proficiency in open-ocean operations, but considering that the force's mission is coastal defense, that might not mean the attack sub force is ineffective. We'll have to see which direction the numbers go in future years to see if the Chinese are really trying to develop a blue-water Navy by 2020.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Indian Submarine Bumps Merchant Ship

Vigilis has a lot of information on the news that INS Sindhughosh (S 55), an Indian Kilo-class submarine, had a minor collision with MV Leeds Castle. According to this story in the Indian press:
At the time of the collision, the submarine was plying in shallow waters of the Arabian sea at periscope depth when the large merchant ship grazed over it damaging the submerged vessel's aerial radar and fin, sources here said.
Luckily, it appears no one was hurt, and the sub returned to Mumbai under her own power. Some in India are already blaming the potential failure of boat's indigenously-produced sonar system for failing to detect the merchant; as us U.S. submariners know, however, sometimes not even the world's best sonar can keep a boat from coming out on the wrong side of the "big ocean / little ship" probabilities.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Call On Bryan Fischer To Prove That He's An American Citizen

Here in Idaho, there's this guy with a "no comments allowed" website and a 1,300 person mailing list (at least some of them people who don't agree with him and just want a daily chuckle) who gets an inordinate amount of attention from the press as the state's self-styled spokesman for Family Values. He's come up with some kooky ideas recently (like the one where he wants us to only vote for unpledged Electors, and get rid of the 11th and 12th grades for most kids) but today he threw one out that just plain pisses me off. Seems he thinks illegal immigrants are a threat to Idaho Families (at least the type of family that he recognizes) and he's jumped on the "anchor baby" bandwagon:
Although bad Supreme Court precedent has resulted in the custom of granting citizenship to the children of illegals born on American soil, a careful and accurate reading of the Constitution reveals that this is just another instance of judicial activism gone awry.
The 14th Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War, was enacted to prevent any of the former slave-holding states from denying citizenship to the children of slaves who were born in the United States prior to the end of the Civil War.
It makes clear that citizenship is guaranteed only to “persons born … in the United States” if they are also “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”
Slaves, and the children born to them prior to the end of the Civil War, were clearly subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States, including the onerous laws that permitted slavery in the first place.
But obviously illegal aliens are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, which is why they choose to live “in the shadows” and can be deported immediately upon detection.
The unfortunate misreading and misapplication of the 14th Amendment by the Court, which invented the “anchor baby” category of citizenship, does not need to be corrected by another constitutional amendment. It can and should be corrected by a Court that respects the original intent of Congress and the states when they enshrined this provision in the Constitution in the first place.
I guess if Mr. Fischer believes illegal aliens aren't subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, then he would want to deport this guy without having him serve his prison time. My point here, though, is how do we prove that anyone is a citizen if not for the wording of the 14th Amendment -- especially if, as Mr. Fischer wants, it wouldn't require another Constitutional amendment. Should someone automatically be a citizen if one of their parents was a citizen? OK, how do we know their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were citizens, if not for a birth certificate saying they were born in the United States (which wouldn't be useful under Bryan's Rules)? The only way is for someone to have naturalization papers, signed by a judge. (Or, I suppose, be a bonafide member of an Indian tribe where there's a chain of legislation granting all members of said tribe citizenship at some point.)

So would Mr. Fischer pass this test? Can he come up with naturalization papers for any of his ancestors, along with birth cerificates (original and notarized, please -- you know those things can be forged) for the whole chain from the naturalized ancestor to him? If not, he should immediately demonstrate that he stands behind his words and remove himself immediately to the land of his ancestors -- probably Prussia.

(Slightly off topic, but in case you get the idea that Idaho only has right-wing extremists, the left doesn't get a free pass -- the Idaho Democratic Party just invited Daily Kos guy Markus "Screw Them" Zuniga to speak at their big yearly dinner. Not quite the best way to show independent Idaho voters that the Idaho Democratic Party isn't just the party of the Angry Left.)

Submarine Training -- The Good And The Bad

I've always been a big believer in the importance of training and drills for submariners. While I wasn't a big fan of the types of drills you had to run to prepare for ORSE (for various reasons that can't be discussed in a public forum), I figured that any chance to practice or discuss pretty much any aspect of submarining was time well spent. And while I publicly parroted the official Submarine Force line that "if it wasn't monitored, it didn't happen", I figured small group walkthroughs of some evolution were one of the best ways to hone our proficiency.

That being said, check out this video of a "firefighting drill" shot on USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708):

On the Ustafish, we'd go through cycles when we were out when we'd randomly announce on the 1MC for something like the AOW and ETOW to rig a firehose somewhere, and we'd have the off-going supervisors monitor the evolution. I was a big fan of little walkthroughs like that, but after watching this video now I'm not so sure. Does it really look like there's much useful training or exercising of damage control equipment going on? Was the fire in the supposed to be in the laptop computer of the guy who kept working right through the training going on two feet from him? (I'm not picking on the MSP here -- I'm sure every boat does essentially the same thing.)

The bigger question is: Is there such a thing as "bad" training? (Assume the information being put out isn't faulty.) What percentage of the lectures, drills, and walkthroughs you did on the boats completely lacked any training value for anyone? Are the administrative demands of the training program taking away from doing actual useful practice? The comments are open...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Here's Your Video Proof

When the reports came out of the five Iranian Revolutionary Guards speedboats harassing three American warships over the weekend, self-styled "progressives" immediately launched into cries of "Tonkin Gulf II" and demanded to see video proof. Well, the Navy provided the proof, in the form of video shot from the bridge of USS Hopper (DDG 70):

(Another video report is here.) The Iranians are left with weak accusations of video "fabrication", but I'm sure the reflexive "America is always wrong" crowd will buy their version.

My take on the whole incident? Some Revolutionary Guards commander started believing their propaganda, decided to try to stir things up, and is in the process of getting his pee-pee slapped. The mullahs running Iran know that the only way they could lose power (and their lives) in the next decade or so is to provoke a war with the U.S., and while their Revolutionary Guardsmen might believe all their claptrap, they don't. They're survivors.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dolphin Scholarships Available

The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation awards college scholarships to the children of Submariners and submarine support personnel; as of last year, there were 137 Dolphin Scholars, each receiving $3,250 per year. The application for current high school seniors for next year just came out; it's something any Submariner with a student going into college next year should get their kids to apply for. Of the 35 new Scholars last year, it looks like three of them are children of old shipmates of mine, so I know that real people are getting these awards.

My sons will be applying starting next year, so after this year I won't be as impartial in hoping everyone wins. For now, though, good luck to everyone!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Year In Submarines : 2007 Pictures Of The Year

Eric from The Sub Report posted a video compilation of The Year In Pictures for the Submarine Force in 2007 over at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. If you'd like to download the presentation, you can do that here.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Movie Reviews, Chick-Flick Edition: "P.S. I Love You" And "Atonement"

Ever have a time on the boat when you put off a quarterly Preventive Maintenance item until the end of the quarter, and then, figure that since you have the initial conditions set, you'd just go ahead and do it the next week to get credit for the new quarter? Here in CivMount, I have a quarterly PM to go to a chick-flick with my wife. I didn't get around to last quarter's movie until after Christmas, and took care of this quarter's requirement during the first week. Here's my reviews -- from a guy's perspective -- of two movies your wife might be dragging you to soon.

The first movie we saw was "P.S. I Love You", starring Hilary Swank. She's a fine actress, but I've never really thought of her as sexy. I still don't after seeing the movie. This movie had some funny scenes, and I liked the device of using an opening scene argument to establish the various relationships and conflicts you'd see later on, but the movie lasted way too long -- a good 30 minutes after what I thought was a logical quitting point. My recommendation to any guy dragged to the movie is to get up, say "Good movie", and leave after she reads the letter in Ireland -- for extra points, you can fake having some tears in your eyes. Hopefully your wife will follow you, and you won't have to sit through the last half hour, which is pretty much about shoes. (Seriously.) Since I only drifted off to sleep once, I give it two Stereotypical Irish Drunks out of five.

Last night, we went and saw "Atonement" on its opening night here in the Boise area. I had high hopes for this one -- it's on a lot of Top Ten lists for 2007 movies, and Keira Knightley, despite having no boobs, has that nice underbite that can be attractive at times. The theater was completely full, which I hate; I don't mind sitting next to my family, but sitting jammed up next to strangers isn't my idea of a good time. First, the good -- the performances were uniformly good, and the cinematography was outstanding; expect a cinematography Oscar for the film, based mostly on this incredible 5 minute tracking shot of the beach at Dunkirk during the early stages of the evacuation.

The rest was all bad. It's not that I couldn't understand the characters or their motivations; it's that I actively disliked them. While that can be effective in movies sometimes, it works better if the characters are more complex -- these ones weren't. Even worse, we were forced to watch many scenes repeatedly, Teletubby-like, from different "perspectives"; this device added absolutely nothing to our understanding of the plot or characters that a continuous narrative cutting between everyone couldn't have done much less boringly. Beyond that, the people making the movie couldn't count (apparently believing that the German invasion of France took place four years after 1935, rather than in 1940 as it actually did) and the depiction of anarchy on the beaches at Dunkirk was decidedly un-British and, most likely, just plain wrong; Brits may lose battles, but they always maintain their dignity when they're retreating.

This seemed to be one of those movies where they tried to use things like "symbolism" and "metaphor". There were lots of scenes of people falling into deep water (including a fountain that shouldn't have been more than a couple of feet deep), and I started thinking that maybe this was supposed to represent the absolution one can gain from a baptism; then I thought that it was surprising that a modern "popular with the critics" film, especially a British one, would have such a theme; then I realized I just didn't care. The movie blew.

When we were first married, my wife and I saw "Passage to India", and since then have compared every ponderous, boring movie we've ever seen to that one. I started thinking about "Passage" about a half hour into "Atonement". Because this movie took two hours from me that I'll never get back, and since we were in a crowded theater so I couldn't even talk to my wife, I give this movie "the finger".

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rock Chalk Battle "E"!

Thought I'd take a quick break from celebrating the athletic prowess of my alma mater (Orange Bowl win in football, undefeated in basketball) and post the submarine Battle "E" results:
SUBRON 1 (Pearl Harbor) – USS Los Angeles (SSN 688);
SUBRON 2 (Groton, Conn.) – USS Philadelphia (SSN 690);
SUBRON 3 (Pearl Harbor) – USS Key West (SSN 722);
SUBRON 4 (New London) – USS Miami (SSN 755);
SUBDEVRON 5 (Bangor, Wash.) – USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23);
SUBRON 6 (Norfolk) – USS Scranton (SSN 756);
SUBRON 7 (Pearl Harbor) – USS Cheyenne (SSN 773);
SUBRON 8 (Norfolk) – USS Boise (SSN 764);
SUBRON 11 (San Diego) – USS Topeka (SSN 754);
SUBDEVRON 12 (Groton) – USS San Juan (SSN 751);
SUBRON 15 (Guam) – USS Houston (SSN 713);
SUBRON 16 (Kings Bay, Ga.) – USS Florida (Blue and Gold) (SSGN 728);
SUBRON 17 (Bangor, Wash.) – USS Louisiana (Blue and Gold) (SSBN 743);
SUBRON 19 (Bangor) – USS Maine (Blue and Gold) (SSBN 741);
SUBRON 20 (Kings Bay) – USS Rhode Island (Blue and Gold) (SSBN 740).
The winners in submarine force special categories are: the torpedo retriever Porpoise (TWR 823), homeported in San Diego; the floating dry dock Arco (ARDM 5), homeported in San Diego; the deep submergence research and ocean engineering submarine NR-1, homeported in Groton; the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), homeported in Guam; and the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), homeported in Bangor.
Congratulations to all the winners! I'm glad to see two of my old boats [USS Topeka and USS Jimmy Carter] on the list, as well as two boats captained by old Topeka shipmates [USS Cheyenne and USS Maine(B)]. It's also nice to see Idaho submarining represented on the list by USS Boise. Blunoz has the message from SubPac along with a good discussion on the importance of the Battle "E".

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

As a way to welcome in the new year, here's a link to a collection of videos from USS Minneapolis-St. Paul's last deployment, including one of the crew bringing on shore power in Rota:

(It's weird -- even those these videos were only posted in the last couple of days, I'm pretty sure I've seen something very similar to this video a while back, but couldn't find that I'd posted about it.)

As part of year-end housekeeping, at some point I'll have to go over my predictions for 2007 from last January and come up with some for this year.